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Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D.Min.

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Practical Christianity

Mastering Your Money

James 5.1-8

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[Once there was a Baptist, who had a pious look.
He had been totally immersed, except his pocket book.
He put a dollar in the plate, and sang with might and main.
"When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain."]

["There are many that claim to be saved and yet their, so called, conversion experience has not reached their pocket book."] 

["The measure of a man is often made by his attitude toward money."] 

["More people are ruined by prosperity than are ruined by adversity."] 

Are you mastering your money for the master or is your money mastering you? 

Four things about a mans attitude toward money: 

A.   The Worthlessness of Stagnant Wealth (vs 1-3) [- Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.]  

1.      The Desire For Wealth (vs 2-3; Luke 12.15-21) - [Treasure – The word treasure is the same word we get thesaurus from which means collection.] 

[These are people who collect wealth like some would collect stamps.  They don't get it because they need it.  They just want it.] 

[Three types of riches are referred to in this passage:] 

a.       [Hoarded Grain (vs 2) - Your Product - ". . . your riches are corrupted . . . "] 

[Corrupted σέσηπεν (Gk) - To rot, corrupt, destroy (Sept. Job 40:12). Usually in the NT in the pass. ̄pomai, 2d perf. SÚsēpa intrans. meaning to rot, be corrupted, i.e., to perish (James 5:2, “your wealth has rotted” [a.t.], meaning your hoarded stores or goods)[1]] 

[Thus this referrs to hoarded stores of food or grain, because gold and silver and clothing do not rot.  What happens to hoarded food?  It eventually rots or perishes.  Food can not be hoarded and stored perpetually.  Although many try to do just this.] 

b.      [Hoarded Garments (vs 2) - Your Possessions - ". . . your garments are moth eaten . . . " – Even clothing cannot be hoarded for long.  If you do not wear them out then they will go out of style.  The fact of the common mans experience when this text was written was that the average man didn’t have more than one or two changes of clothing.  This was true of many up to just a couple of generations ago.] 

c.       [Hoarded Gold or Money (vs 3) - Your Prosperity - "Your gold and silver is cankered . . . " – Even Gold and silver do not last forever.] 

[This is wealth that is held just for the joy of holding it.  Not so it can work.  Jesus said,] 

[Luke 12:16-20 16 . . .  The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?]

[What was the error of this rich man?  He sought to hoard what God had given Him.  Secondly, He wanted to hoard it so he could use it selfishly for his own purposes.  God gives wealth that it might be used by Good stewards for His kingdoms work.]

[Luke 12:15 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.]

[Luke 12:21 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. ]

[It isn't a sin to be wealthy. James isn't warning against money, he is warning against:]

a.       [A wrong attitude toward money.] 

b.      [A wrong way of securing money.] 

c.       [The misuse of money.] 

[The Bible warns,] 

[1 Timothy 6:10 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. ]

[You can be poor and commit this sin.] 

[You can be rich and not commit this sin.] 

["It is one thing for you to possess an abundance of things, it is quite another thing for an abundance of things to possess you."] 

[Illustration - Hetty Green was one of the richest women in America.  She was worth over $100,000,000.00.  She would wrap newspapers around herself to keep warm in the winter.  She would read her newspaper them resell it.  She would spend nights sorting the rags in her factories, because she could get a penny a pound more for the white ones.  What was wrong with her?  Her money was her master.] 

["money is to work for us, we are not to worship it."] 

2.      The Distribution of Wealth (Deut 8.18; Gen 13.2; Matt 27.57; Col 3.5; Eccl 5.13) [– Where does wealth come from?  The Bible says that it is God that gives wealth.] 

[Deuteronomy 8:18 18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. ]

[God does not expect his people to just be poor.  There are some who think that if you become a Christian then you must be a pauper]

[The Bible says, ]

[Genesis 13:2 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.]

[And Abram became Abraham, who was the father of God’s people Israel and the Church.  The Bible also says,]

[Matthew 27:57 57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: ]

[Joseph of Arimathaea was evidently a very rich man.]

[Don’t make the mistake of thinking that wealth stands in opposition to God and godliness.  It is your attitude toward wealth that James is warning us about.  Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that if a person has wealth that they are evil or rejected by God.  Our Heavenly Father has many wealthy people.]

[Colossians 3:5 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: ]

[Ecclesiastes 5:13 13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. ]

3.      The Disguises Of Wealth [– We have already noted the different types of Wealth in verses 2-3 (Grain, Garments and Gold).]

[Illustration – The Knight and The Little Ogre - Once upon a time there was a White Knight looking for adventure. He came to a village where legend told of a terrible ogre in a pit. Bravely the White Knight took up the challenge. He would do battle with the terrible ogre in the pit. The people remembered several courageous men had climbed down into the pit, but no one could remember even one of those champions returning. ] 

[The White Knight stood looking at the deep, dark hole. The opening was so narrow he stripped himself of armor and unnecessary clothing. He took only a long dagger, which he tied around his neck with a leather strap. After securing a rope at the opening and testing its strength, he gripped it firmly and began lowering himself, hand under hand, letting the rope slip between his feet. Soon he felt the cool, smooth floor of the chamber. It took several minutes for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, but soon he focused on a large mound. Then he realized it was the bones of his predecessors, along with their assorted weapons. A little way off he spotted another mound, but he wasn't sure what it was. ] 

[Suddenly he was surprised by the inhabitant of the pit--surprised because he didn't anticipate that the ogre would be only as tall as a rabbit. The ogre waved his arms and screeched with its squeaky voice, trying to appear as fierce as possible. The White Knight picked up a sword from the floor and prepared to do battle, but quick as a rat, the ogre ran into a hole near the second mound. ] 

[The White Knight followed, and as the second mound became clearer, again he was surprised. Before his eyes there glittered balls of gold as big as grapefruits and diamonds as big as plums. With only a small part of that treasure, any commoner would be a prince for life. The little ogre lost its importance in view of this great treasure. ] 

[But the White Knight had a problem. How would he carry it out of the hole? He had no pockets. Who would believe him if he didn't bring back at least one piece?] 

[He suddenly had an idea. He would take one of the diamonds in his mouth and carry it that way until he had climbed out of the hole. He could always come back later for the rest. Hurriedly he chose one of the larger diamonds. It fit comfortably into his mouth, and he began the arduous climb out of the pit, hand over hand, gripping the rope with his feet. His tongue held the diamond tightly against the roof of his mouth. Higher and higher he climbed until the heavy exertion began to render him breathless. He would have to breathe through his mouth in order to get enough air. As he took in a large gulp of air the diamond slipped and stuck in his throat. The White Knight choked on his treasure, lost consciousness, and fell to his death on the mound of bones below. ] 

[You see, the terrible ogre in the pit was not the little troll. The ogre in the pit was greed--greed in the hearts of men who saw easy treasure and the hope of unearned gain. The glitter of this world had choked him to death.] 

[There is more to wealth than prosperity.  There may be a wealth of knowledge or strength and more.] 

B.   The Wickedness of Sinful Wealth (vs 4,6) [- James now focuses on the way the rich use their wealth.] 

1.      Its  Security (vs 4; Deut 24.14-15) [- Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth - Wealth gotten by oppressing the poor.] 

[There were no labor laws in James day.  The Bible said men were to be paid daily.]

[Deuteronomy 24:14-15 14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: 15 At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. ]

[The rich had a tendency to use the labor and wages of those who worked for them as leverage to lord it over them or to get them to serve them the way they wanted.  They would use their wages as a tool to force them to continue to work for them.  God warns the rich to deal fairly and justly with those who work for them.] 

2.      Its Solicitation (vs 6; Exo 23.6-8) [- Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. - The wrongful, powerful persuasion of wealth.] 

[Bribes - These rich men could condemn the poor in court by the power of their wealth.] 

[Exodus 23:6-8 6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. 7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. 8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. ]

[Rich people are warned by God to never use their wealthy as a tool for injustice, just because they can.  God will hold them accountable if they do.] 

C.     The Wantonness of Selfish Wealth (vs 5) [-  Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.] 

1.      The Sensuality of Selfish Wealth - Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; . . .  - As seen in our culture as never before, wealth out of control often results in wantonness.  All restraint is thrown to the wind when people stop trusting in God and start trusting their wealth.] 

[Wanton - ἐσπαταλήσατε (Gk) verb -  ἐσπατάλησα; of a self-indulgent way of life live luxuriously, riotously, for sensual gratification (1T 5.6)[2] ] 

[Wanton – Web 1828 – To rove and ramble without restraint, rule or limit; to revel; to play loosely 2. To ramble in lewdness; to play lasciviously. 3. to move briskly and irregularly.] 

[God is for a joyful life.  The bible tells us to enjoy the work of our hands.  Enjoy life.  The bible is not against recreation or legitimate pleasures.] 

[The Bible is against a person who lives in riotous excess.  Like a hog being fattened for the slaughter.  Living in utter selfishness or wastefulness.] 

2.      The Snare of Selfish Wealth [- . . . ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.] 

[Illustration - The story is told of Rose Greenhow, a Confederate spy during the Civil War, who tried to evade capture and the loss of her fortune by sewing the gold she had gained into the seams of her dress. But the ship she boarded sank, and the weight of the gold made it impossible for the life preserver to support her. She sank to the bottom with all her wealth. Dr. Pierce Harris, who told the story, pointed out that death did to her what it does to all of us, because we "cannot take it with us" when we die. But sometimes, we might add, it takes us with it!] 

[Is your wealth taking you with it.  Are you trusting your wealth or trusting in God?] 

D.   The Wiseness of Sanctified Wealth - Wise for two reasons: 

1.      There is a day of Reckoning (vs 1,3,4) [– James notes three things about this reckoning.] 

a.      [Immediate Judgment (vs 1) - Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. – God will work against the wickedness of the wealthy here and now.  They will live in misery.]

b.      [Final Judgment (vs 3) - Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. – God will hold them accountable at the Great White Throne Judgment of God.  It may appear that the wealthy have gotten away with evil, but it only appears so.  God never misses a thing.] 

c.       [Vices will have voices (vs 4) - Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. – Those who take advantage by wealth may seem to be above any kind of judgment, but the Word of God reveals that their judgment is coming.] 

2.      There is a day of Reward (vs 7-8) [– Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. –These words are meant to keep us on track.  Jesus is coming, is your wealth working for Him.  You cause your wealth to work for you by investing it in things of eternal value - the souls of men.] 

[Illustration - Cyrus H. McCormick:  Inventor of the reaper who financed Moody's spiritual harvest  ] 

[During Cyrus McCormick's boyhood, farmers faced the unwieldy task of harvesting increasingly larger crops of grain. McCormick inherited his father's dream to perfect a mechanical reaping machine. When he did (assisted by a slave named Jo Anderson), Cyrus McCormick made history. In 1847 McCormick moved to Chicago to oversee manufacture of his reaper, and in one year he sold 1,500 machines. At age 40, McCormick was heralded as a captain of industry. ] 

[A Presbyterian layman, McCormick lived by the creed that business and Christianity are compatible; the latter ought to serve the former. In that context, he enticed the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest to move to Chicago by promising to endow a chair if it relocated. The seminary not only moved, but also adopted McCormick's name. ]

[It took an extraordinary man to convince McCormick to invest in projects outside his own denomination. Dwight L. Moody succeeded. When the young revivalist described his vision for a Chicago YMCA building that would be larger than the Crosby Opera House, McCormick warmed to his tenacity. ] 

[ Moody boldly asked McCormick for an initial investment of $10,000. His plan was to raise $125,000 by selling stocks in the YMCA association. The association then hoped to repay investors from its paying boarders. McCormick's name, Moody said, would start the ball rolling. Two years later, in 1866, the full sum was pledged. ] 

[The building was hardly built when it burned down. McCormick again purchased $10,000 in stocks, and in 1869 the new hall was dedicated to him. ] 

[McCormick contributed yearly to the YMCA and periodically to Moody's campaigns in Chicago. In 1886, when Moody began raising funds for the Bible Institute, McCormick offered $50,000. "Better make it a hundred," Moody told him. "That will require some consideration," McCormick replied with a smile, ending the conversation. But he later consented to give the larger amount. ] [-- "Dwight Moody," Christianity Today, no. 25. ] 

Are you mastering your money for the master or is your money mastering you? 



[1]Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G4595). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[2]Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (353). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


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